Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Monday, March 08, 2010

  Lies are awkward things

Now that many prominent Republicans are denouncing the McCarthyite smear campaign against DOJ attorneys being orchestrated by Keep America Safe, Liz Cheney and William Kristol are scrambling to recast themselves as innocuous good-government types. Indeed. Their attacks were simply misunderstood, they say. KAS never meant to impugn the loyalty or “values” of the lawyers hired by the Obama administration, its leaders began to claim late last week. Instead they just wanted DOJ to release the lawyers names. Later, when the names had been released, it turned out that they just wanted DOJ to explain whether those attorneys were working on any issues related to Guantanamo prisoners. It’s just a call for transparency, you see, not at all a political hatchet job - as Kristol helpfully explained in his characteristically dismissive tone:

THE WEEKLY STANDARD has learned that another left-wing advocacy group, Human Rights Watch, is circulating a letter condemning what the letter describes as “a shameful series of attacks on attorneys in the Department of Justice who, in previous legal practice, either represented Guantanamo detainees or advocated for changes to detention policy.” The Human Rights Watch letter mischaracterizes the “attacks” as saying “that the Justice Department should not employ talented lawyers who have advocated on behalf of detainees.” In fact, the main issues in the debate have been whether Congress and the public are simply entitled to know who these lawyers are, and the question of whether former pro bono lawyers for terrorists should be working on detainee policy for the Justice Department.


In other words, Cheney and Kristol hope to wriggle free of the McCarthyism charge because the KAS ad smeared the DOJ attorneys with innuendo, which is after all subject to interpretation. Unfortunately for KAS, however, its campaign also dealt in deliberate lies as I pointed out last Thursday here. At the time I emailed KAS spokesman Aaron Harison asking him to explain the assertion in question. Though he’s a veteran of John McCain’s rapid-response team from the 2008 election, Harison still has not responded to my query more than three days after I sent it to him.

Lies must be awkward things to walk back.

The lie, boldly stated by Harison last week, is that the DOJ attorneys under attack had represented “terrorists, many of whom killed Americans”. As I explained here, that is utterly false.

I sent Harison an email at KAS asking for an explanation of that comment: "Which terrorists specifically are you referring to, and which DOJ lawyers represented them?" No response has been forthcoming.

Little wonder. The lie is not incidental. It’s a bald-faced lie. It is a gross escalation of the campaign by Keep America Safe to evoke public fear and loathing of the DOJ attorneys. And it has nothing to do with transparency, or what issues these attorneys are working on, or whatever other plausible sounding rationales that KAS might dream up in the future to try to justify its egregious attack. KAS won’t address this lie because it cannot and maintain the fiction that it has been misunderstood.

Lies are very awkward things.

crossposted at unbossed.com

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